Journal Friday #64: Artistic Accomplices and Layers

 
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Although it has been a busy week in the studio of cleaning, purging and organizing, I have found some time to work in my journal, especially on Monday when Dave came down for a good chunk of the Day, and we spent the day in the studio working in our journals. There is something about making art along with someone else, and it has been quite a while since Dave and I got together to simply work in our journals. It was good working and chatting.

 
 

As I've mentioned before, my journaling process is a slow accumulation of marks, colors, lines, textures, ideas, and so much more, and I build up pages layer by layer. It's not uncommon for some pages to have 10 or more layers, and it is this build up that gives many of my pages their richness. Much of my journal work this week has been working in all of my current journals, adding layers of materials and techniques, trying to build richness. Right now I have three journals - a large 11x14 journal which is my basic, everyday journal; a 5.5x8.5 journal where I am focusing on how colors, techniques, materials, and ideas can link and connect pages creating a true visual narrative, and a 4x6 collaborative journal that I am sharing with a friend in North Carolina. It's interesting to work in journals of various sizes, since each size poses it's own challenges, and the size affects how ideas, shapes, and colors relate. I like having multiple journals going simply for the fact that as I allow something in one journal to dry, I can work in another, and it's quite easy to rotate through them.

A few pages from the large journal.

A few pages from the collaborative journal.

Finally a page from the visual narrative journal.

 
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Purging, Letting Go, and Making Space

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As I get ready for the Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour in a couple of weeks, I have tackled not only cleaning and organizing my studio, but also painting the floor which means clearing the studio of pretty much everything. Though I began sorting and organizing a couple of weeks ago, I am feeling the pinch now, and I’ve kicked up my efforts quite a few notches. I can’t wait to see it when it’s finished, but it’s a very daunting task.

 
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One very positive thing has already emerged from all the cleaning and organizing. I have been purging — a lot. I’m probably like many artists who have tons of stuff — materials and supplies, unfinished work, old artwork, scraps of paper, experimental pieces, books, papers, and so much more. But here lately I have been really hating all the stuff that’s crammed into my studio, which is a one-car garage. Despite multiple purges over the past couple of years, there’s still so much that it’s downright overwhelming, and I’m tired of the clutter and the junk.

So, I’m purging, clearing space, and combatting the clutter.

It began a couple of weeks ago, as I began sorting through my fodder, ephemera, and scraps. Now, I’m not one to go to a store and buy stuff, but I collect a lot in my day-to-day life. I pick up postcards or business cards from businesses, restaurants, and shops. I get maps when I travel, and I keep my metro passes, bus tickets, and parking vouchers. I get stickers from everywhere, and coasters from breweries and bars. I collect much much more with the intention of gluing it all into my journals and art, but I don’t do a very good job of keeping up. It piles piles up.

As I began sorting through the fodder, I used some of it, held onto some of it, but got rid of so much more of it. Even though there was a part of me that wanted to hold on to it saying, “But I might need it in the future. I can use it in some art,” I had to let go, so many things ended up in recycling. Then I moved onto my artwork. This was a bit harder, and the emotional pull to keep it was even stronger. But I pressed on and sorted and purged and let go of so much. A lot of old, experimental artwork ended up in the trash or in recycling, and some of it ended up on the fire pit. It was a symbolic release of the stuff that keeps weighing me down. It was a symbolic purge by fire.

It’s liberating yet emotional to let this stuff go, much of it has been sitting around the studio for years, and though there’s that tug as I toss it, I truly know that I’m better off letting go. I’m never going to finish these or do anything with them, and much of this artwork is not my best. They’re pieces from long ago. Pieces where I was figuring out my style. Pieces that were experimental and crude and just not things that need to be out in the world. I have to let them go.

As an artist, it’s so easy to cling to the things that I have made — to the things that I have brought into existence, and there is a real attachment to these pieces because of the time, effort, and thought that I have put into them. But if I cling to these things, if I hold tightly onto all of these things from the past, I can’t move forward. The past can weigh us down, and the only way forward is to make space for the future by letting go of the things of the past. As long as all of this stuff clutters up my environment, my space, and my mind, I stay stuck when I so want to move forward, grow, and evolve. I need to let it go, clear the ground, and start new.

The process has continued with many other things in the studio, and I’m eager to get it all sorted, to let go of even more, to make space for new ideas, new work, new adventures, so I am slogging forward, digging through, and making space.

I can’t wait to share the final outcome.

The Journal Fodder Junkies Daily Challenge: Part 10 Now Available

 
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Part 10 of The Journal Fodder Junkies Daily Challenge is finally available. I had every intention of publishing it at the beginning of the month, but the past couple of months have been rather busy. I just didn't get it finished. But it's in the Shop now.

Part 10 contains 31 new challenges to keep you creating daily. I hope that you you find it of some value! To purchase or to find out more, click here.

21 SECRETS The Best of 2014 & 2015

 
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It's been rather busy around here lately. So busy in fact, that I haven't had time to share some awesome news.

Back in 2015, David and I were proud to be part of 21 SECRETS, and we offered an online workshop, along with 20 other artists through Connie Solera's Dirty Footprints Studio. It was great to be a part of this endeavor, and we are pretty stoked to announce that our workshop has been re-released as part of the 21 SECRETS The Best of 2014 & 2015!

How awesome is that? But this time, we join 36 others in presenting a great variety of visual journal workshops, and we hope that you can be a part of it. And, It's such a deal! You get 37 amazing workshops for only $128, and we're not talking about short little demos. We're talking about full on, awesome workshops with a 300+ page PDF ebook, and videos galore.

We hope that you can be a part of this amazing opportunity.

For more information or to purchase, go to the 21 SECRETS website.

Journal Friday #63: Catching Up

 
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It's been a busy few weeks, and though I've had time to work in my journal, I haven't had a chance to post a Journal Friday. So, I'm playing catch up now. I worked a lot different pages in the journal, but I'm only sharing some of them.

Before my trip to Kansas City, I went back to some earlier pages in my big journal and worked on some embellishments. I added some image transfers and some large words - even cutting out the stenciled letters from the page in one instance. I always enjoy going back to pages that I started months ago, and adding bits and pieces to develop the ideas, images, and concepts further.

Slowly over the past couple of weeks, I have added some other embellishments as well to other pages - some collage, more image transfers, some lines, faces, and color to some notes from the NAEA Convention in Seattle. I even included the scoring from a game of Farkle while I was in Kansas City. It's good to see so many pages starting to take direction.

But the bulk of the work has probably been this past week. I began cleaning and organizing the studio in preparation for the Western Loudoun Studio Tour June 2 & 3, and as I purged my stash of fodder, I tried to use up a lot of things by gluing them into the journal. I glued in old doodles and drawings, images, and text, and much, much more often using the collage to start new pages. I even glued in fodder that I collected in Kansas City, and a short vacation to the beach last week. I can't wait to see where these pages will go.

Things have settled down now, and I don't have any travel plans for a while, so hopefully I can keep up with the Journal Fridays.

Artful Layers

During April, I was fortunate to teach my Artful Layers workshop to two awesome groups. The first was in Harrisonburg, VA at Larkin Arts. We had a blast in this one-day version of the class, and I bombarded them with techniques, ideas, and materials. I loved the enthusiasm and excitement that the students brought to the class. It seemed like about half of the students were teachers or former teachers, and it was good talking to them about their teaching experiences and about how they might implement some of the ideas from the workshop into their classrooms.

We had a great day of making art together. I am very grateful to the eight students who spent the day getting messy with me. I thoroughly enjoyed the day!

A couple of weeks later, I travelled to Kansas City, MO to teach a two-day version of the class at Amanda Jolley's Studio Joy. Amanda has an amazing studio space in a former garage, so each student got a table all to themselves, which was good with all the art being made and the stuff they brought to the class. I loved that fact that Janus the studio cat oversaw the workshop.

It was very nice to stretch out the ideas and techniques and to dive a bit deeper into the process with two full days, and there was plenty of time for the students to just work on their art and explore the variety of possibilities offered through layering. Again, the students were awesome and full of excitement and enthusiasm, but there were often times of utter silence as everyone was just deep into their own making.

Since I never have an end result in mind, I encourage experimentation, exploration, and working on multiple pieces at once. I am always amazed at what the students come up with, and these two days were no exception. I think that artists need to work alongside other artists, at least every now and then. The ideas and the inspiration that comes from working in close proximity with others is truly priceless.

I am very thankful to Amanda for hosting the workshop, and showing me around Kansas City, and to the nine awesome artists who spent the weekend making art with me.

Thanks to everyone who joined me in April for a workshop. I can't wait to offer more.

Journal Friday #62: Building Layers

 
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I've been working in my current big journal for 3 and half months now, and some pages are really starting to take shape, so I spent time this week building up layers on pages that already have a lot going on.

When I begin pages, I often have no idea where they're going, and themes and concepts often develop as the page progresses. I worked on a few pages this week using stencils and drawing words as ideas popped in my head. Sometimes the words are in response to what's happening on the page. Sometimes they're from reflective writing, and sometimes they're reactions to things that I've read, heard, or seen.

Along with adding writing and words, I broke out the Chartpak blender marker and created several image transfers with some photocopies that I have lying around. Image transfers are an easy way to add imagery, and the marker transfer results in a fuzzy, transparent image that is perfect for layering over top of other materials.

I also added some imagery with my pen, and drew on a few pages. I love to draw monsters, so I spent time experimenting with a variety of silly, sad, and confused little beasts. I also added a stylized face to another page. Though I often use my pens to draw rectangles, lines, and shapes, it's nice to break out some recognizable imagery once in a while.

I always enjoy how pages develop over time and seeing how different pages can of in completely different directions!

Journal Friday #61: Red Ink

 
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As I've mentioned before, my visual journal pages are a slow accumulation of actions, and often what that means is that I sit down with a specific material and work on quite a few pages at once. Sometimes I sit down with watercolor paint, or watercolor pencil, or with scissors and glue. This week it was my red uni-ball pen. The uni-ball Vision pen is my go to pen, and I always have a black, blue, and red on me. This week I spent time revisiting pages and embellishing words, images and shapes.

Besides embellishing, I used my uni-ball to do some writing in the journal using several writing techniques including stream of consciousness and note taking. The note taking was doing a little bit of research for a new series of artworks that I am working on. I've been focusing on the idea of relics, so I looked up definitions on a variety of dictionary websites.

 
 

So, it was just a few minor things this week, but not all actions in the journal can be grand and big. Often they are small details and embellishments that build depth and meaning.

Journal Friday #60: Watercolor Layers

 
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Today was spent journaling at the coffee table. One of the great things about the visual journal is that it's a portable studio, so instead of needing to be in the studio, I can work anywhere, like the living room coffee table.

I worked primarily with watercolor adding to pages that I had already started. Because of their transparent nature, watercolor is perfect for layering.